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Winter has settled around our feet like an overfed cat.
The wind carries snow upwards to sparkle in the air,
sends dervishes whirling across the drifted roadways.
Everyone is hopping with news of growth in their businesses or ideas, in upgraded websites or book releases.
Sort of like celebrating a kid’s new front tooth, this post is a short list of eight things that have come my way this week that inspired me.
At least one of them will inspire you, I am sure.
Jennifer Currie is my nearly next-door neighbor and a painter and spiritual seeker is doing beautiful work. On her blog she writes about dancing in her jammies every morning. She had a special offer to her newsletter subscribers that I took her up on, and all I can say is, thank you Jennifer. You light up Great Barrington with your joy.
Advent has long been a time of great anticipation and joy for me. Less joy, honestly, once my kids were big enough to be ‘waiting’ for Christmas, even though we have not had huge Santa strewn holidays. Advent has a very special place in my heart though, not tied to gifts or doing, but is about sitting and listening, waiting- not an easy thing for little kids understandably. They loved the Advent Circle at their kindergarten, but have outgrown that tradition. I have to coax my girl to open the doors on our lovely calendar. Oh, I could go on about Advent, but when I discovered what Mandy at Messy Canvas was doing, I signed up for her ‘Come Thou Long Expected’ Advent journey. Her e-book is written in her steady voice with a month of daily readings and prompts for working in my art journal. Here is the quote I loved today:
“To be seen fully by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow- this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.”
At Alchemy Initiative’s Handmade Holiday Festival in Pittsfield this weekend, I ran in to my collage studio pal, Laurie May Coyle. Aside from raising a sweet angel of a little girl, Laurie has sprouted her own coaching studio and with her friend Ilana Siegal, will be leading a 13 week Creative Productivity workshop here in the Berkshires. I love Laurie’s art. Whenever I see a bird, I think of Laurie.
Then, in a comment here on Laundry Line Divine, I met Spike Mason who introduced me to his latest music video. After sharing it on Face book, I learned from my soulmate in Australia, Justine, that the vocalist, Kristin Berardi, is a friend of hers. Here is what Justine said about Kristin:
“Gorgeous soul, and the mother a son and daughter. Kristin’s singing is as divine as she is herself…. she is a powerful force for promoting women and voice…”
I know you might be worried about your holiday shopping, but, if you stop at my pal Janet’s blog, you might take yourself out for a little food adventure. She manages to find the most unexpected foods in unexpected places. And here is her newly updated blog spot, not to be confused with Blogspot. It is ever so roomy there now.
Then, there were some wonders in the mail.
First, my pal Lori Randall Stradtman, who I met in BlogWorld Expo 2 years ago and fell immediately in love with, sent me her new-to-the-world book “Online Reputation Management for Dummies”.
I have only begun to dip in to the very clearly written text, laced with her natural humor and clean sharp eye which peers perceptively in to Huffington Post and Nike all while raising 3 kids and a couple of dogs. Lori has written a book that appeals to blog hosts like me. I am always working to improve what happens here on the Laundry Line and I want my presence on the world wide web to one that foots with my value and integrity. Lori has written THE book on how to make sure I do that. Thanks Gal!
And, of course, being the holiday season, this post of marvels would not be complete without some FeMail! Karen and I got together this week to create some one-of-a-kind postcards to be sold at the Burlington Vermont Holiday Art sHop next week.
Karen wrote a post for FeMail here. Here is a sample of our little works of art that you can send through the mail. This one is by Karen.
And lastly, this is mail I look forward to getting, I just joined my virtual friend Michelle’s online community at her site Gwarlingo. I often mention Michelle here because she posts some of the most interesting and exciting art and culture news.
I joined because I know being a reputable and steady presence online requires support. And, being an artist, I know the value of that support. So congratulations Michelle! I can’t wait to share my Gwarlingo mail with my Laundry Line readers.
Here’s what we used to do. A lot. We will bake again this year. And I will hope for some decorating assistance from the best little bakers in the Berkshires..almost all grown up!
For today I am taking deep breathes and offering prayers of gratitude that all is well in my household. The kids are working hard at school. My husband made dinner twice this week already. And tomorrow is art day where he takes the steering wheel for our family life for the whole day. I am a very fortunate woman, I know.
I have big news too. That anthology I mentioned is really happening. I am becoming an indie book publisher before your very eyes. More on that when I have visuals to share.
Until then, just know I appreciate your time and attention here on the Laundry Line.
I will close with a quote from one of my husband’s heros, Jacob Bronowski. If you sit next to my guy for longer than 30 minutes, let’s say you are at a party and you get him talking- he may steer you towards some of the wonders of life that he learned about watching Bronowski’s The Ascent of Man in 1973.
Here is the quote that captures the spirit of this post and pretty much everything I do:
The world is totally connected. Whatever explanation we invent at any moment is a partial connection and its richness derives from the richness of such connections as we are able to make…the act of imagination is the opening of the system so that it shows new connections.
Some days the doorways in my life swing inward and I am filled with inspiration from here and here and here.
Some day’s inspiration comes in the way of what I eat, like here.
And other days, it comes by way of what others are doing with my work, like this and this.
I am thrilled and honored to be part of Miranda Helin Hersey’s e-book.
If you are in the Berkshires, please join me at Mad Mac’s tomorrow evening for an exhibit of mobile photographs filtered through Instagram.
And, if you are really local, you can show up in the alley near Rubiner’s Cheesemonger’s shop for some live theatre at the Living Room Theatre at 8pm.
I will be reading some of my writing there.
Off to oil my hinges and make sure the doors to my heart are ready to swing outward for tomorrow night.
Standing in a circle yesterday morning at Kripalu with 19 women, some of whom were strangers to me until this past Sunday evening at 7:00 pm, I knew that one place I belong is in circles of women.
I love to live and work among and with women.
I love to spend time and work in solitude.
I love to make connections through my work in the world.
None of this to say I don’t love men or like to work with them. I live with 2 fine men I am fervently in love with and am madly in love with a bunch more.
I am simply passionate about the particular vulnerable grace that happens when women decide to stop bitching about stuff and do things together.
I have spent the last 4 days making vibrant visionary collages at a yoga and art retreat at the Kripalu Center in Lenox, MA. My collaborator Karen Arp-Sandel leads an extraordinary workshop blending art practices and yoga, Zen philosophy and doodling. We made many collages this week, walked the labyrinth and enjoyed our circle time. From this yoga center, which is formerly a Jesuit monastery so there is a certain cinderblock style that makes me feel like I am back in my Lutheran School again,
only the food is way way better- I can see the top of Monument Mountain which hides my town from view in the valley of the Housatonic River. I was on a retreat within spitting distance of my family, if you can spit 12 miles.
When I consider the real and virtual community that is growing up around ‘Out of the Mouths of Babes’, the 15 bloggers we have heard from so far and the 15 I have lined up for this month, the radio interviews with Serene Mastriani & Gabrielle Senza, Jeanne Bassis, the 5 authors, my dear Lynnette Najimy, 2 video people, BFWW producers and presenters, the audience, the artists whose work we shared and Matt Tannenbaum, plus my wider writing community support- we are growing quite a circle around this project.
I could not be here without a few people.
One of them in Janet Reich Elsbach. She was walking with me last fall when I shared my idea for ‘Out of the Mouths of Babes: An Evening of Mothers Reading to Others’ and before I had really completed my thoughtful and comprehensive presentation to her as we pumped over dead logs and miles of browning oak leaves, Janet was off and running, leaping tall buildings, making connections to other writers and helping me enflesh my idea with her unique brand of brilliance. And, in the meantime, while I grew ‘Out’, she grew her own blog spot, in fact two blog spots.
Not only has Janet leant momentum and joy to ‘Out’, she contributed her writing. Her blog post on the blog series is quintessential Janet- funny, erudite, contemporary and contemplative. Janet’s piece that she read on March 2 was another piece of her writing about food and the inner and outer politics of being a conscious consumer while also being a full time mom, and a sheep farmer, and a writer. She brought her audience up close and into her inner world of weighing the value of what she does daily with what she sees in the world. She is a force of nature. Stormy at times, but predictable as weather.
I am fortunate to have Janet in my circle of Women. And, my family is fortunate because knowing Janet is to learn the ways of pickled foods you have never tried before, of brownies better than you have ever nibbled and of parties that become events that become family traditions you can hardly live without. Like the weather, our friendship is strong and serene and a condition of being who I am today.
Today’s ‘Out’ post is by Dahpne Cohn, known to many as The Pleasure Nutritionist. Daphne blogs, leads e-courses and teaches about pleasurable eating that leads to things you might like to be led to like weight-loss or improved health. I love her videos because her kids are often there, dropping Brazil nuts in to the mixer for smoothies or shyly tasting her concoctions and attempting to be serious tasters while grinning from ear to ear. Daphne has an enthusiasm for community that just makes my day.
While we made art at Kripalu, we also lingered over well-made meals rich with salads and greens and only one meal with dessert attached. Too bad they did not have Janet’s recipe. (You can have Janet’s recipe if you enter in to the March 30th drawing by subscribing to this website). The laughter and sharing that increased with our hours together, the tears shed as stories were told helped to solidify our circle, stamped our individual fingerprints in to the mosaic of the group. Here is a grouping of the small canvases that we made.
Because I love to sing, I shared this song with the group:
We are a Circle of Women
When we get together it is healing
We raise our voices in gratitude and praise.
We’re open to the wonders of grace
I see the Goddess in your face.
We’re blessed by the miracle of love here.
We’re blessed by the miracle of love here.
While the circle of people gathering around ‘Out of the Mouths of Babes’ stretches through cyber space, our hands still touch as we type our comments, our blog posts, as we press ‘send’ on our offerings of creativity. As women, mothers, or lovers of both, this gathering is laced with the fragrant and potent presence of truth. Surely, there is more to be shared here. There are miles of stories to be witnessed. I have every desire to travel with ‘Out of the Mouths of Babes’ and invite other mother author artists to share stories and inspire audiences as we did on March 2.
And, until I pack my bags with my chicken call and rice pudding, I will be here at the Laundry Line, shaking loose the knotted socks and the colorful tales of my life. Thank you for standing in this circle, both women and men, I am grateful for your presence.
Now I suggest you get in line for that brownie recipe.
xoxoxox Love, S